Qualification - Foundation Certificate in Horticulture

Course CodeVHT003
Fee CodeS4
Duration (approx)150 hours


Start you Career as a Gardener, Garden Designer or Horticulturist here.

"This is the best entry level qualification under 200 hours that you are likely to find anywhere".

Quote: John Mason, Garden Magazine Editor, author (45 books), Professional Horticulturist (40 years), Fellow Institute of Horticulture

Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. The Plant Kingdom (part a)
  2. The Plant Kingdom (part b)
  3. The Plant Kingdom (part c)
  4. Plant Propagation
  5. Outdoor Food Production
  6. Garden Planning
  7. The Root Environment and Plant Nutrition
  8. Protected Cultivation
  9. Horticultural Plant Selection, Establishment and Maintenance
  10. Horticultural Plant Health Problems


  • Demonstrate a broad range of horticultural knowledge; communicate clearly and coherently in writing on horticultural matters; and relate horticultural science to its practical application.
  • Understand the classification of higher plants and appreciate the internal structure of higher plants.
  • Understand the external structure of higher plants
  • Develop an understanding of the principles and main practices of plant propagation in horticulture.
  • Understand the fundamental physiological processes within the plant including photosynthesis, respiration, water movement, pollination, fertilisation, seed formation and germination.
  • Develop an understanding of the principles and main practices of plant propagation in horticulture.
  • Understand basic cultural operations and production methods necessary to obtain outdoor food crops.
  • Understand basic surveying and design principles and apply them to basic garden design and planning requirements.
  • Develop an understanding of the constituents, properties and management of soils and growing media.
  • Develop an understanding of environmental control and plant cultivation in greenhouses and other protected environments.
  • Develop an understanding of plant selection, establishment and maintenance of a range of ornamental plants.
  • Develop an understanding of pest, diseases and weeds that affect horticultural plants, and the cultural, biological, chemical and integrated systems used to control those problems.


Most students should budget on spending 150 hours or more doing this course if they hope to be successful when sitting final exams.


To be awarded the certificate by ACS you must satisfactorily complete all assignments; and also sit an exam on successfully completing all assignments.

Plan What You Do

Gardeners and horticulturists who know what they are doing will always make a better job of what they do.

  • They will create better gardens
  • They will do the work of maintaining gardens better
  • They will grow better crops
  • They will operate more profitable horticulture enterprises

If you want a better garden, you need to know what you are doing first, then you can plan for the best result and build a garden which is as far as possible, fit for purpose.
The first part of designing any garden is to appraise the site and collate information upon which the design will be based. While the information you gather will depend on the site characteristics and the subsequent landscaping plans, it is important to be as informed as possible about the site and the resources available. Examples of pre-planning information you might wish to collect include:

1. What is the soil like? Be aware that the soil can vary in its character over very small distances. Do not rely on a single sample from one place. Dig holes, either with a space or an auger, and study changes in the soil as you progress through the profile (i.e. go deeper). Measure the pH level and note the texture of each sample. Mark your findings down on a sketch plan of the site.

2. What are the site dimensions? This means the shape of the land, the length and position of boundaries, where buildings, pipes, large trees, walls and any other existing features are located.
A lot of this work might be avoided if you can get a builders plan; otherwise you will need to gather information to create your own plan.

3. Are there legal restrictions for the property. Zoning laws and local government regulations may stop the construction of certain features, changing drainage patterns or other things.
Legislation may regulate what land can be used for, or how far from a boundary a building is able to be located.

4. How does the micro-climate vary across different parts of the property? Some parts may be less exposed to temperature fluctuations or wind. Some parts may be more prone to wet soils or dry soil. Study the environment of the locality. Climate, wind, temperature, frost, rainfall, altitude etc. can vary greatly from place to place, even in the same town or city. Drive around nearby areas and see what plants are growing there successfully.

5. Available resources. What resources are available to do the job? There is not much sense in designing a good landscape if the money is not available to build it; or even if the money is available, if the materials are simply not on the market. Know how much money is available. Investigate the materials available locally (local quarries, garden centres, etc).

6. What is most important to the client?

  • Function - (the way the landscape is used)
  • Aesthetics (the appearance)
  • Maintenance (the resources needed for maintenance)
  • Safety and Security

Different clients prioritise these factors differently. For one person, the cost of maintenance and appearance are not as important as being able to use the garden. Having a place for outdoor entertaining and for children to play may be more important than anything; but for another client, having a show garden that is aesthetically stunning may be the top priority.

7. When you are not familiar with a site, it may be important to take photographs you can refer to when planning the garden.

This course gives you a fundamental understanding of all of the important parts of horticulture; so that you can foresee issues before they develop into a problem.

You will develop the knowledge you need to become a better amateur or professional gardener, and the foundation to grow your knowledge and become an expert hoirticulturist.


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